Minimalism is becoming a craze, like chia seeds and kale, it’s a topic on screens, lips and in homes everywhere.
Personally, I have a strong distaste for the term “minimalism” as a way of choosing to live, as I am involved in groups online that have people who are afraid of living to their own beliefs purely because they don’t feel that their lives are ’empty’ enough.
When you really start to read into the movement, it is about living in a manner that has you surrounded by what brings you joy. It’s simple really.
Like eating healthy, it shouldn’t require a label, yet it does.
Dr Steve Maraboli said:
Happiness is found in the simplest of things. Happiness is found in gratitude, in a kept promise, in a good conversation, in love, in friendship, in an achieved goal, in a fond memory; in all the simple magnificence of life.
When I was growing up, money was not readily available. Things were very tight.
When our parents separated, life was very different again, as I was raised through my teen years by our father. Meals were 2 minute noodles, sandwhiches and occasionally sausages and vegetables if he had his “lady friend” over for the night. I remember stealing my first bra from Kmart as dad didn’t have any money to buy me one, and my friends mum buying me a second one when she found out how I had acquired the first.
My dad has always had limited money as he had always been self employed right up until I was in my midtwenties. He could very easily be put into the same category as a hoarder. He would find a screw on the footpath and put it in his pocket “in case he needed one that size one day”, and would keep piles of catalogues, mail, car parts, scrap metal, only seeing them be thrown out every couple of months. There was always a lot of “stuff” and it’s only been since his battle with cancer began that he has started to remove clutter from in and around his home.
I never really learned the value of money, and possessions were what I would surround myself with as I believed firmly that they made me happy. I would get paid and spend every cent. I would turn over clothing like it was going out of fashion [literally]. I was always yearning for happiness in ‘things’, wanting to create a life that was very different to how I had grown up.
It wasn’t until we faced bankruptcy 5 years ago that I learned about finances, my sister lost everything in the floods in Queensland, and then when my mum lost her home and every single thing in it due to fire, I learned about material possession.
When I separated from my husband, it was the most refreshing feeling in the world. The 2 boys and I lived very minimally and I will never forget the different looks from people as they came to visit (I then learned about judgement and gratitude), and life was simple, carefree, and while things were very hard in some respects, we learnt different ways of cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and the happiness that came into our home was astronomical. My health improved, Max was no longer seeing a counsellor weekly, my husband and I started to talk again.
We lived a very simple lifestyle, and it simply brought us so much relief. We reconnected by playing together, reading, walking, playing outside. We had no internet, a tiny tv, and a 2 bedroom house.
When we moved back into our house, the overwhelm of there being so much stuff to keep cleaning up was ridiculous – my anxiety was skyrocketing, I couldn’t sleep properly, and I despised being home. Work became my sanctuary because I had space to myself, with nothing to clean up, and it became clear what needed to change (and it wasn’t our house).
In our 4 bedroom home, every room was filled with items that may have been used every now and then. I had an overflowing wardrobe that I no longer liked. Toys – so many toys. Cups, glasses, crockery, linen, makeup. When my brother in law moved in, I then had to discount the 4th bedroom, which meant that the stuff in there needed to go somewhere.
I did a personal styling course to learn how to dress for my colouring, personality and body shape – I now have a full wardrobe I love to be in, and know what ‘gaps’ I have, and how to put together outfits using everything I own. So much clothing was donated, and I have a couple of tubs of items I will put on eBay to fund the purchase of my “gap list”. Quality over quantity is key (and this is now coming through strongly in my blogging/promoting).
I pulled out ALL of the toys, and emptied the kids bedrooms – I filled a wheely bin with rubbish and broken or parts of toys, a full car boot of op shop items, and a bag of books for daycare.
We got shelving in the garage – everything is up off the floor, and anything no longer required has been donated or sold.
Removing so much from our home has given me a clearer head. I love being here as I no longer have the worry about stuff being everywhere (except my nemesis, laundry. She seems to be ongoing..) and our spaces are filled only with things that are loved.
It has given back time to our family as housework is minimal. We use almost everything we have regularly (the Christmas tree may even be replaced this year as it didn’t come out of its box last year), apart from a few bits and pieces.
I now see where our money goes (coffee will be the next thing to be reduced…..), and it’s easier to keep track of it, freeing up a lot of stress. We can now make ends meet, rather than continually living in the black.
We are now living simply, instead of simply living, as we used to – call it mindful if you will. We are no longer guided by what we surround ourselves with, and I now live in the thought of “if I lost everything today, what would I need for tomorrow?”.
When I reflect on the changes over the past year, it’s been in line with my spiritual expression – to live in love – and while there were some heartbreaking, confusing and dark moments, the light of love has started to come through in ways I had never imagined.